How to Save Effectively (and Faithfully)

Give your money a job to do.

While it feels nice to have a “Savings” account if you’re anything like me you may have had one without much thought put into it; “Saving” is the goal, but there isn’t really a purpose beyond that. Perhaps you have some vague ideas like having an “emergency fund” or just know generally it is good to have a bigger number in there.

Did you know there isn’t any Biblical imperative to save for saving’s sake? In fact, in the parable of the talents one guy refuses to use the money his master gives him and instead puts it in a hole in the ground and buries it until the master comes back, and the master is furious he wasted the opportunity because of fear. In fact, he’s called “wicked and lazy.” It’s an incredible parable.

What are your goals? Mine are fairly self-interested. I want to buy fair trade clothes, which means I need to spend more money less often. A long-term goal (like maybe in five years) is to have “my” car one day – a second car – so I’m saving a little money towards that each month. One of the things I place a really high priority on is education (whether it’s taking a sewing class or doing my M.Div) so I’m saving enough each month to cover the costs of at least one course+books per semester.

What are the goals God might have for your money?

Having a purpose – and a Godly one – for your savings makes it more likely that you’ll actually save, and it also makes it less likely that you’ll dip into your savings if your money has a specific goal.

Here’s a prayer you can pray right now to invite God into this process. Feel free to read my words or make it your own prayer:

Dear God,

Adoration

You said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. You have created light where there is darkness. You created order where there was chaos. You have created all of time, you know everything that is and was and is to come. You are eternal and we are in your hands.

Confession

We confess, Lord Jesus, that sometimes we rely on our money for our security, and depend on a number in our bank accounts for our sense of peace. We confess, Lord Jesus, that often what you have given us we mismanage and we fail to act where we should.

Thanksgiving

Thank you, Lord, for your forgiveness. Thank you, Lord, for how to teach us. Thank you, Lord, for being patient with us and giving us your Holy Spirit to help us do hard – but good – things

Supplication

Please give us your wisdom to manage the money your have given us. Show us, Lord, how to value what you value, to love who you love, and how we can make our goals align with yours.

We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Whatever job you want to do with your money, assign that money the job. This is taken straight from a YNAB training webinar, but it’s a helpful way to think about saving however you budget.

These are some of the categories I have in my YNAB budget.

I put this category at the top of my budget because I feel like it comes out of my money first. It's a priority for me, and something I'm trying to be more intentional about.

I put this category at the top of my budget because I feel like it comes out of my money first and is my first priority. 

Savings Goals General

My husband’s love language is gifts, and I think his siblings appreciate it, too, so I budget for Christmas and birthdays. I put the dollar amount I want to put in my TFSA category because that’s my goal (and seeing it helps motivate me).

Some possible jobs God may be asking you to invest in:

  • To financially support missionaries.
  • To give 10% of your income to your church every month.
  • To sponsor a child through something like WorldVision or Compassion.
  • To pay off a debt.

I’m not going to share all the things I do with my money that aren’t self-interested, because that’s boasting, but I will recommend the following amazing organizations that I care about that maybe you might care about, too.

Pre-emptive Love Coalition – Empowering women, children and families that are refugees and fighting ISIS. They are essentially “unmaking violence.”

Food for the Hungry – I love food, so supporting this organization aligns with my goals. Plus, they just have a really great structure of helping communities become sustainable.

CAMH – The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is in Toronto and helps a lot of people in some incredible ways. Definitely a very good cause.

My church – Whether I understand what my money does here or not (I actually happen to trust the people in charge, so I’m not worried), I give in obedience to the command from God to tithe.

These are goals that may take a while to work up to, or maybe by sacrificing in one area (clothes, lattes, eating out) you might be able to make these goals a reality right away. Either way, consider how God may be calling you to be more faithful in your savings account, by giving your money a job to do.

“It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – Jesus (Matthew 4:4)

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How to Be Rich

People don’t like talking about being rich, even if they are.

Money magazine did a survey about how people defined being “rich”:

— and nobody thought he fit it. For each and every person, “rich” was roughly double the amount possessed by the person defining it. In other words, when they interviewed people who earned $30,000 a year, that group defined “rich” as someone who earns $60,000. When they interviewed people who earned $50,000 a year, the magic number was $100,000.

There’s a pastor in the States that talks about the subject really, really well. His name is Andy Stanley and I’m a big fan of his. He did a preaching series, and then wrote a book. If you like sermons you can listen to them here: 2011 2012 2013 2014

I think it’s indicative of how much help we need on the subject, that he has preached this series for four years running… 

If you like reading books, it’s a short and fun read: Amazon Canada Link. Amazon America Link. 

I read it on Kindle on my way back from Tanzania, where I had just spent a week on a safari, driving past little African children… who lived in mud-brick huts. It was exactly what I needed to read. I knew that as a Christian I was not called to just spend on myself, but while I had some vague notions to give to church and to charity it nevertheless felt like managing my finances in light of the very great and urgent need of others was overwhelming and my view on money was a totally insufficient.

So I highly recommend this book if you, too, care to beef up your understanding on just what it means to be good at being rich.

money does two things to people: It makes us arrogant, and over time it becomes our primary source of hope, leaving us with the impression that we are self-sufficient.


Human nature tells us that our identities are defined by our possessions. That started in high school, didn’t it? Early on we learned that we are the sum of what we own.


Proverbs 18:11 describes the migration of hope this way: “The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale.”


when things are going well financially — and we’re experiencing a long string of situations in which we’ve needed something and all we had to do was reach for our wallets — our hope will tend to migrate.


the writer of that proverb said the rich “imagine” a wall too high to scale. The wall exists only in their imaginations. In reality, there’s no amount of money that can protect us from everything.


If we allow our hope to migrate toward riches, we’ll start to hoard.


What do you do in order to put your hope in God? What are the steps? Look at what Paul says next: Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Timothy 6:18) There you go. A step-by-step plan for keeping your hope from migrating.